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Playing Merion the Monday after the U.S. Open

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My name was drawn in the media lottery to play Merion on Monday. First thought was that I had “won” something equivalent to a five-hour visit to the dentist’s office.

Not so.

The 5 hour, 20 minute round – hard to hate on the players for taking that long, it just took that long – was enjoyable and gave me more respect for the U.S. Open participants than I had already. I know how good these guys are, know how hard they work and know how difficult a course is that’s set-up for the Open. It was good though, to be reminded.

Here are some short shots from the Merion experience, which was played with the same Sunday hole locations and varying tee markers that made the course play 6,700 yards:

• Started the round on the 16th hole. Good thing we got the easy holes out of the way first eh? Which means we ended on Nos. 14 and 15. Goodness gracious.

• Made par on the par-4 11th hole.

• If I’d have made more than one par, you’d probably hear about it.

• Hit 9-iron to 15 feet on the short, 123-yard par-3 13th hole. Three-putted for bogey. Still not quite sure how Phil Mickelson botched that hole so badly.

• Took photo of the iconic Hogan plaque in the 18th fairway. Regret I didn’t take a photo hovering over the spot at the top of my swing. Probably better anyway. I’m a lefty, wouldn’t have looked right.

• More respect for players for putting those fierce greens. Downhill putts were lightning quick, uphill putts were brutally slow, all were impossible to read. Should've hired a caddie.

• Brought five sleeves of balls but only lost six. Balls, not sleeves. Didn’t dig into the second sleeve until after the 11th hole. Moral victory.

• Beat final-round Phil Mickelson on one hole (3) and tied him on three (5, 11, 13). Beat final-round Justin Rose on one hole (11) and tied him on one (3). Explains why Rose won and Mickelson did not.

• Would love another crack at the historic venue under normal conditions. Envision it being one of the more fun tracks in the country under those circumstances.

• Refuse to give up the final tally. I don’t kiss and tell.

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